HUNTINGTON — Marshall University’s basketball practice had one more body and a noticeable amount of added energy Monday afternoon.
Cam Brooks-Harris, a redshirt freshman from Zanesville, Ohio, was on the court for his first practice of the year. Brooks-Harris was back on the court after being reinstated to the team by Marshall men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni.
“I felt like he handled his responsibilities like he’s supposed to the last couple of weeks,” D’Antoni said. “He understands what the expectations are of this program and I thought he handled it well. I’m not here to punish people. I’m here to make it better.”
During the duration of his short suspension, Brooks-Harris was not allowed to be with the team for practices or meetings. Instead, he was forced to get shots up alone and work on his game by himself. Brooks-Harris said it was the loneliest feeling he’s had since coming to Marshall.
“It hurt me bad,” Brooks-Harris said. “I was just speechless. The toughest part was not being able to practice or to be in the locker room around the guys. I’m around them every day and that’s an important piece of my day, so not being able to be around them killed me. I had to take it as a hard pill to swallow. I did it to myself, so at the end of the day, you have to pay the price.”
D’Antoni said that Brooks-Harris’ diligence to get in the gym on his own and learn the last piece of that lesson was integral.
“That’s why he’s back out here,” D’Antoni said. “You’re still their parents, in a lot of ways. And you’re trying to teach them how they have to be in order to achieve great things. It’s a learning experience. There’s certain things you’ve got to do.
“Sometimes, you don’t know how great it is until it’s gone. And, sometimes you have to remind a player, you know, this can go. It’s not a right you have. Once they see the alternative, it generally takes care of itself. Cam’s a good guy, a good kid. Bad kids, there’s not much tolerance for. He’s not a bad kid.”
With a newfound appreciation for his spot on the team, Brooks-Harris returned to the floor, bringing the same attributes that were seen during his redshirt season last year when he used his length, athleticism and energy to take practice to another level. During the team portion, Brooks-Harris got a deflection on a pass, hustled to save the ball from going out on the sideline, then threw down a 360 flush before smiling as he ran back down the court.
“I’m fresh, baby,” Brooks-Harris yelled.
Not only did Brooks-Harris bring energy to his own game, but also those around him. His scrappy, chirpy nature elevates any one-on-one or team drill. When he had Taevion Kinsey calling to go one-on-one with him or Mikel Beyers yelling for a foul on Monday, he knew that he was fulfilling his current role on the team.
“These first couple weeks back, especially, I’ve got to bring it,” Brooks-Harris said. “We’ve got Herd Madness and our first exhibition game. I’ve got to bring all the energy.”
That energy level did take its toll in his first day as Brooks-Harris showed a little fatigue and frustration as practice wore on. Kinsey came over to talk to him after he missed an open shot midway through drills.
As Kinsey pointed out, it’s all about having fun — a stark contrast to the scenario that faced him over his suspension.
“It was like a smack in the face,” Brooks-Harris said. “Like, ‘C’mon now. It’s time to get up and do this.’ I’m back on track now, I promise.”